Climbing Lascar – The Most Active Volcano in Northern Chile

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Lascar is in the center. Click image to enlarge. This is from the Salar de Atacama salt flats.

If you ever find yourself in the San Pedro de Atacama area of Chile, Lascar will prove to be an easy volcano to spot.  Its not the famously conical shaped one that everyone takes pictures of, that one is Licancabur.*   Lascar is the flat topped volcano streaked with white.  The white streaks aren’t snow (most of the time…occasionally it snows too) but are sulfur deposits.  Also, on most mornings you can see a small cloud over Lascar, due to the fact that Lascar is an active volcano.

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Licancabur – very symmetrical. Not very climbable, what with the landmines…

Not only is Lascar active, it is the most active volcano in Northern Chile.  Its volcanism is the cause of one of the strangest climbing difficulties I’ve ever heard of: toxic clouds of sulfur.  If the wind is coming from across the crater the hike can get very unpleasant.  It is sometimes so bad that the hike can’t be accomplished.

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Copa Coya: The Greatest Hike Ever?

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to travel to the Atacama Desert in Chile.  Many hikes were had.  Many were awesome.  This one was probably the most awesome.

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Copa Coya is an almost volcano.  It tried, but never quite made it.  Evidence of its attempt include geothermal springs and geysers nearby.  If you’re touring the Atacama a lot of groups visit Copa Coya just for the geysers and springs.  If you’re into hiking, skip the geysers and go for the hike.  You can always take a dip in the hot springs after the hike. Continue reading